So my Facebook friends already know this (and you might want to just come back another day because I'm pretty much Debby Downer today) but one of the Pararescue guys who pulled Jeff from the water was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday (along with another PJ and two others). Our paths crossed ever so slightly, but Mike was a very nice guy. He led the mission to pull Jeff to safety and I know Jeff will never forget him and how good he and his partner were at their job.
It's safe to say I'm struggling with this news and that I'm struggling to understand why. I mean, I really didn't even know him. I met him the day he got an F-15 incentive ride and we crossed paths again at our favorite coffee shop right before we left Okinawa, but otherwise we're strangers. I find myself being thankful anew that Jeff's day turned out the way it did on January 17, 2006 and can't stop thinking about his wife and their two young kids and how their story is so different than my own. We've always been so grateful to everyone who was involved in Jeff's rescue - they were so efficient, so good, so glad to get a pilot rescue (seriously, they were as excited about it as we were)! So I'm just really sad for his wife, who supported a guy who was committed to saving others in dangerous situations and lost him in the process. To be really honest, I thought this was just me being overly emotional (I'm maybe prone to that) but then Jeff referred to the PJs as his "guardian angels" and has pondered going to the service, so I think it's both of us feeling this way.
While we didn't think about Mike Flores every day, we are forever thankful for him. And I can pretty much guarantee he didn't think about Jeff much, but I hope he knew how much we appreciated him. I promise to not be a downer anymore, but please send up a prayer or positive thought or whatever you can for his family and everyone else affected by this loss.